Do We Believe in Microevolution? A Warning to Us Indies

by / January 6, 2016

For the sake of brevity and to show how main stream this topic is, I limited myself to results gleaned from Search Creation.org. If I’d searched with Google, there would be pages of quotes from fellow creationists!

“Microevolution is an uncontroversial, well-documented, naturally occurring biological phenomenon. It happens every day.” Got Questions.org

“Yet another teaches students of a Christ who used macro-evolution to get us here.” The Creation Club

“Macro-evolution is but a silly theory for explaining life without God.” David Rives Ministries

“Only the last one, micro-evolution, has anything to do with real science.” Creation Today

“Microevolution: the name used by many evolutionists to describe genetic variation, the empirically observed phenomenon in which existing potential variations within the gene pool of a population of organisms are manifested or suppressed among members of that population over a series of generations. Often simplistically (and erroneously) invoked as ‘proof’ of ‘macro evolution’” CreationWiki

For years I’ve watched and read as creationists used the term “microevolution” to differentiate between the change we see in creatures today and the “macroevolution” kind of transformation evolutionists believe in over millions of years. The term didn’t seem ideal to use, particularly around kids, but didn’t seem too important until I ran into another article recently.

I was checking out a new apologetics website and near the top was an intriguing article titled Sorry, Christians: Macro-Evolution Does Exist by Roger Browning, A Clear Lens. What kind of apologist was this?!!

But the more I read, the more I realized he was demonstrating from a Christian’s perspective just how dangerous the term microevolution is. Here is one of our brothers in Christ; someone willing to publically wrestle with big ideas. But he is openly friendly to theistic evolution apparently because of the line of thinking in his article. And that line of reasoning starts with the term microevolution (and includes a good dose of Magic Time Dust as usual). This word was more powerful than I’d given it credit for.

What surprised me was the reaction I got from fellow creationists when I shared the article on social media. Many of them were upset at the author and claimed he was twisting things (and maybe not even going to heaven). Obviously, there is a substantial group of creationists who think we should be free to use the term microevolution under our own definition. But is this wise?

Microevolution-noun, Biology: Evolutionary change below the level of the species, resulting from relatively small genetic variations. Microevolution produces new strains of microorganisms, for example, or the rise of a new subspecies. The accumulation of many microevolutionary changes results in macroevolution. The American Heritage® Science Dictionary

If you’ve never done so, do a quick GoodSearch* of definitions for microevolution. The one I chose here is not an anomaly. It’s the standard way the rest of society uses the term.

[KEY POINT]Now, I understand language is constantly changing, but this usually occurs organically as situations change. To actively redefine a term to suit your own needs is usually not a good thing. Politicians and others sneaking in new ideologies redefine terms all the time, and normally, those of us who believe in objective truth aren’t too happy with them. Do we really want to follow in such footsteps? [/KEY POINT]

I found ICR’s middle of the road approach interesting:

“Microevolution refers to varieties within a given type. Change happens within a group, but the descendant is clearly of the same type as the ancestor. This might better be called variation, or adaptation, but the changes are “horizontal” in effect, not “vertical.”” Institute for Creation Research [Emphasis added]

If a skeptic uses the term microevolution and gives real world examples, responding like this is understandable. But we’re going to have to hammer away at that “vertical” problem. Inherent in the word “evolution” is the idea of progress towards something better- “vertical” change upward. Never once has this been observed, not even on the micro scale.

If we are setting the stage for a discussion, using terms like adaptation and variation is way smarter. These things may allow creatures to fit their environment better, but they never get better or more complex than their ancestors, period. We see genetic and epigenetic “horizontal” sideslips galore, but at best something latent is exposed, and usually something was broken to cause the change we observe.

“Implicit in the term microevolution, however, is the idea that the sorts of change observed in these salmon could eventually add up to produce non-fish, given enough time. As creation scientists, therefore, we tend to avoid the use of the term microevolution because evolutionists often say that macroevolution—the supposed evolution of one kind of organism into another—is just ‘microevolution writ large.’” Answers in Genesis

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. I Corinthians 2:13

If this is new to you, please don’t take my word for all this. Have a prayerful look at these articles:

Creation Ministries International: Arguments we think creationists should NOT use

Creation Education Center: What is Microevolution?

Creation Moments: Microevolution: Surely There MUST Be a Better Word!

PS While researching this article, I ran into yet another apologist caught on the same idea:

“Christians of every viewpoint (young-Earth creationists, old-Earth creationists, and theistic evolutionists) all agree that evolution, in this sense, takes place (sometimes people refer to this as “microevolution”). What is controversial is whether the same mechanism that drives change within a species is capable of changing one species into another (sometimes called “macroevolution”).” Natasha Crain Christian Mom Thoughts (and she is an amazing resource for parents!)

*I’ve supported ministries I care about for years using Good Search, currently Creation Summit, which reaches out to college campuses. If a group is tax exempt, odds are you can help them every time you look for things online.

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CreationScience4Kids
Hi, I’m Cheri Fields: 2nd generation homeschooling mom of six, pastor’s wife, writer, and science lover. There is a wealth of information available to help people see how trustworthy God and His testimony in the Bible is. The key is to explain concepts simply so they can be understood by anyone. This is my goal, and I’ve had a lot of fun tackling areas where the world tests our faith. CreationScience4Kids.com
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4 Comment

  1. I think that it’s important to point out that the type of change that creationists disagree with is a qualitative, not quantitative. Creationists actually believe that an extraordinary amount of variety is possible within a kind. Just look at the differences between an okapi and a giraffe, yet they likely belong to the same created kind (Ark Encounter has made a really cool model of what the original kind may have looked like). Also, some creationists think that early post-Flood horses had multiple toes, yet today’s only have one on each foot. If we simply define the issue as ‘micro’ vs. ‘macro,’ I think we are setting up for confusion. Instead, we need to point out that the type of change required for evolution (the addition on qualitatively new, meaningful genetic information coding for new structures) has never been observed and is, as best we can tell, impossible.

    Caleb LePore
  2. You make a good point, Caleb. One thing I didn’t mention in the article is the equation many make with creationism=fixism. Of course, it’s easy to forget this since few even know the term (I’m pretty sure I first ran into it at AiG’s website).
    We have been trying to throw off the shackles of Aristotle for a long time. Of course, ark depictions with giraffes and tigers haven’t helped any.
    I think AiG’s Ark Encounter is going to be huge (no pun intended) clarifying this issue for both Christians and onlookers. I also pray more people take a good look at guided mutations the way Dr. Jean Lightner is doing now (she’s one of the partners helping define the Kinds for the Ark).

  3. Cheri, I am glad you raised this issue. I, for one, try to avoid the term “microevolution,” for precisely the same reason you mention, so I will usually substitute “INTRASPECIES VARIATION” in its place. A little clumsy, maybe, but I think it avoids the conceptual pitfalls and the association with macroevolution. I never use the term “microevolution,” unless I have done so inadvertently. Words and expressions are important and this is a big one. Someone else pointed out on this site, I believe it was Avery Foley, that we should avoid referring to Darwin’s hypothesis as a “theory,” because Darwin’s conjectures have never actually attained the level of an actual theory in the strict scientific usage of the term. Another great point. Many words or phrases in common parlance have built-in culturally-accepted false presuppositions and as communicators of God’s truth we should be careful about avoiding the appearance of endorsing falsehood, even if that falsehood is only implicit.

  4. Thanks, Tom, and well put.
    There is a time and place to introduce new vocabulary, but commandeering existing words for our own uses is dangerous.
    What you say about other terms being “clumsy” is so true. We often use the most succinct terms just because they are easier. Unfortunately, most of the terms developed by scientists before evolution took over have been commandeered by them long ago.
    I haven’t bothered with the word “theory”, but you’re right, it’s another term I don’t use preferring “thinking” in it’s place. The only substance in the idea resides in the brains of those who believe it.
    Remembering this is a spiritual battle against the Father of Lies (and Twisted Words) helps us not lose heart when even “little” things like this cause problems. Like Bible translators, we have our work cut out for us communicating God’s truth while avoiding false presuppositions based on the words we choose.

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